Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Am I Thinking? Part 2

With three weeks to go for the Palos Verdes Half Marathon, I figure it is time to try for the full distance. Unfortunately, this is another summer preview weekend with highs forecast into the 80's today and 90's tomorrow.

I try to get an early start, but somehow don't leave the house much before 8am...strange since I have been up since 4am (have had a hard time sleeping this week, not sure why). The sun is already hitting the peninsula hard...definitely my first mistake of the run. My second comes as I near the intersection of Silver Spur and Hawthorne...I forget to stop my watch as I wait more than a minute for the light to turn green.

My third mistake comes from my choice of routes. Unlike previous 10+ mile runs I have attempted on the peninsula, I decide to head over the top of the hill, taking Hawthorne Blvd all the way to where it meets Palos Verdes Drive West. I make a fourth error by running on the west side of the street while the east side still enjoys shade. This lapse of judgment is compounded when I decide against crossing. I have a good pace going and don't feel like waiting for the lights to change again.

There is a gravel sidewalk for much of the descent along Hawthorne Blvd, which is nicer on the legs. When I hear rattling sounds from the wild brush covered hillside, I hop back on to the pavement. I've never seen a rattlesnake in real life, but I know they are around the peninsula.

Even better, the center divider for large stretches of Palos Verdes Drive West sports a dirt trail. I am able to hold a strong pace until the road begins to turn upwards towards Lunada Bay. Another mistake: I am running in a new pair of Kayanos and, since I had not adjusted the tightness of the laces since I started, they have worked their way loose enough that my feet are starting to blister.

As I approach mile 8, I reach the Palos Verdes High School cross country course. My planned run is to go around it, but I decide to go on it. I forgot how hard some of the steeper sections are, so I end up walking to peak and stopping to take pictures. I didn't realize how nice the view could be from the Burma Road, the trails are flanked by high wild flowers.

Yet another gaffe...I attempt to run through the narrower trails along the fence...and plants are leaning into the course to the point where I'm brushing up against some and having to push others out of the way. The plants are making me itch. Great. When I exit the course and start heading up Via Coronel, I realize I have used what little bit of energy I had left in my legs in trying to navigate the cross country course. And Via Coronel is a long winding ascent. Of course, it is also my most direct route I start walking.

Ugh. As if my Garmin data from this run wasn't already messed up enough, I realize I had forgotten to start my watch when I paused the timer for picture taking on the cross country course. I have traveled just over a half a mile too...and I had been looking forward to reviewing the GPS data from the course. With all of the growth, I do not plan to do the course again any time soon. I'll just have to try again in the fall.

After miles of walking uphill, I get a break as I reach the end of Via Fernandez. Unfortunately, my legs don't have any strength left. Even worse, there is absolutely no shade on either side of Montemalaga. When I do try to run, I feel like I am pounding...and I really want to avoid getting chin splints. I run as much of the downhill stretches as I feel comfortable doing, but pretty much walk most of the way home.

When I get home, my watch reads 12.25 miles in 2:23:04.58. If I factor in watch mishandling, the data would read closer 12.75 miles in 2:28...not bad given the heat, the significant elevation change, and how much of the time I actually spent walking. Will I be able to do the Palos Verdes Half Marathon in under two hours? It certainly won't be as hilly as this workout...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

First 9+ Mile Orbit of '08

This morning, Valerie and I head out together, west along Montemalaga, and then down Via Del Monte. Unlike our previous attempt last weekend, we enjoy cool temperatures along the way. I reach the bottom of Via Del Monte ahead of Valerie, but not by much. And when she reaches me, she does not want to stop...continuing on to Via Campesina and eventually back home (totaling just under seven miles).

Having already decided this would be my first ten mile run of the year, I turn towards Malaga Cove Plaza, but, rather than head out to Palos Verdes Drive West, I decide to look for the first trail I ever ran upon. It's not hard to find. I just turn left one street before the bottom and follow it to its end. The trail begins there and continues up the hill. Currently surrounded by the same wildflowers I found on Burma Road, it is not exactly as I remember it, but I do remember the big dip it makes before a steep climb up to Via Arriba.

After working my way back to Palos Verdes Drive West, I head south towards Palos Verdes High School's cross country course. This stretch is a bit longer than I remember it, probably because I am used to running the opposite direction. This way involves a slight incline...nothing challenging, but definitely draining enough to make me not look forward to the climb up Via Coronel.

When the real ascent begins, I start to feel my legs sooner than expected. I decide to detour on to Via Zurita...assuming this street might be a bit steeper, but more direct. Unfortunately, it seems to turn as far to the north as Via Coronel twists to the south, so I am not really sure this is a shortcut. I am walking long before I reach the top.

That said, I still have plenty of energy left to pick up the pace once the incline starts to diminish. I am moving along at a good clip by the time I return to Montemalaga. I finish my run strongly, but just shy of ten miles. My alternate routes obviously took a little distance off of my planned run.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What Am I Thinking?

Despite temperatures forecast into the 90's today, my wife and I foolishly attempt a seven mile run. Obviously, we are not looking to improve our pace...but to even think about such a workout when the Santa Ana's are blowing is more than a little unusual.

Part of the reason I decide to push forward is that I have started to solidify my race calendar for 2008. With the Palos Verdes Half Marathon only a month away, I need to start adding distance especially on weekends when I have the time to do so. But my primary incentive for trying to endure the heat is my foolish decision to attempt the Maui Marathon this September. I cannot shy away from heat or humidity if I want to properly prepare.

Of course, Los Angeles rarely gets humid, so I plan to train on Maui for the two weeks leading up to the event. Am I insane? Well, a year ago I would have laughed at anyone suggesting I attempt even a half marathon. I guess everything is relative.

Today, however, my wife and I let the heat get the better of us. At Malaga Cove Plaza, our halfway point, we decide to detour to my mom's house which is only a mile away...and we end up walking that stretch. A 4.5 mile workout in such temperatures is still a solid effort, but I am far from ready for another half marathon. Fortunately I have still have plenty of time to train for Maui.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Springtime on the Peninsula

Thinking back to high school, I do not think our distance track team ever trained on trails. Obviously our cross country team did, but such training did not start until well after the hills had turned brown under the summer SoCal sun.

So imagine my delight as my wife, friend, and I descend down Burma Road and find the peninsula painted in shades of green and bright yellow. New signs alerting us to ticks and Lyme disease are a bit disconcerting (as are the always present rattlesnake warnings), but we enjoy the setting too much to care.

If my wife hadn't talked me into carrying the water bottle, I would have brought my camera along. That said, I cannot resist pulling out my cellphone to start recording our surroundings as I reach the lowest point on the trail.

Though we started later in the morning than I would normally want to, the marine layer has kept things cool...until now. The sun is starting to poke through. I do not look forward to climbing with the temperature. After all, we still have more than half of our five mile run to go.

Since all of us have not really been training all that much this year (this is actually our first trail run of 2008), I have no problem waiting for everyone to catch up...and then walking with them on the inclines. This simply gives me more opportunities to snap pictures and enjoy the view.